Osteoporosis can leave your bones thin, weak and prone to fractures, cracks and breaks. Fortunately, osteoporosis treatment as prescribed by your doctor and bone-smart lifestyle changes can help you prevent, reduce or delay bone loss. In some cases, bone mass can even improve.
So if you or someone you know has osteoporosis, stay positive.
Osteoporosis: lifestyle changes that make a difference
The following lifestyle changes will help protect your bones regardless of whether or not you have osteoporosis:
Eat for bone health — following Canada’s Food Guide helps reduce your risk of developing osteoporosis and other chronic diseases. Especially important for bone health are:
- Calcium — from milk, cheese, calcium-fortified beverages (soy, orange juice), fish with bones (canned salmon and sardines), sunflower and sesame seeds, leafy greens (spinach, kale) and legumes like chickpeas or soybeans. If you’re over the age of 50, your nutrition needs change and Health Canada recommends that you may require a calcium supplement. Ask your healthcare provider.
- Vitamin D — helps your body absorb calcium. Since getting enough from sun exposure may be difficult, Osteoporosis Canada recommends a daily supplement year round. Again, ask your healthcare provider for advice.
- Protein — helps your bones stay strong and flexible. Protein also helps with muscle strength, which is essential for preventing falls. Canada’s Food Guide recommends two servings of meat and alternatives a day for women and three for men, regardless of your age. Learn more here.
Don’t smoke — smokers lose bone mass faster and are at higher risk for fractures.
Limit alcohol to 2 drinks per day — having 3 or more alcoholic drinks a day could lead to bone loss and increase your fracture risk
Exercise regularly — to help maintain muscle and bone strength. Aim for:
- Weight-bearing exercises (to improve bone strength and reduce your risk of facture) — at least 150 minutes total/week, like:
- Strength or weight training (to improve bone and muscle strength, and your posture) — 2-3 times per week
- Balance exercises (to help reduce falls and your risk of fractures) — at least 120 minutes/week, like:
- Tai chi
- Posture awareness (to help reduce pressure on your spine, and your risk of falls and fractures) — every day
Remember: It’s always a good idea to check with your doctor before starting an exercise program, especially if you’ve been diagnosed with osteoporosis.
Minimize your risk of falls — especially if you have osteoporosis or are at risk. To do this:
- Review all medication with your doctor — to ensure none of them cause lightheadedness or dizziness
- Have your vision checked — especially as you age
- Exercise regularly — including balance exercises
- Watch your step — uneven sidewalks, stairs or other hazards like ice
- Fix or remove hazards in your home — including curled up corners on rugs, extension cords, loose tiles, slippery bathroom floors or shower stalls, stairways without handrails
Find out more about osteoporosis, its causes and risk factors by reading What is osteoporosis?
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